MERIDEN — Zach Burdacki and Tyler Duffy each blasted homers to power Ed Walsh to a 9-5 victory over Jack Barry to open round-robin play in the Meriden Youth Baseball City Series at Habershon Field on Friday night.
Ed Walsh scored in each of the first four innings, bookended by the dingers by Burdacki and Duffy. Ed Walsh led by as much as 9-1 before Jack Barry pushed across four runs in the final two frames to make it tighter.
“I think this was a great win,” Ed Walsh head coach Michael Duffy said. “Jack Barry is the defending champs and to come in and beat them was great. We put this team together at the last minute. We had a lot of kids on vacation and a lot of these kids are actually learning to play with each other. They came together and did everything we needed to do.”
Leadoff hitter Blake Benigni set the tone for Ed Walsh. He connected with the first pitch of the day for a single. Two batters later, Burdacki unloaded a two-run homer well beyond the centerfield fence to stake Ed Walsh to an instant 2-0 lead over Jack Barry.
Ed Walsh picked up three more runs in the second inning off Jack Barry starter Josh Reyes, all came with two outs. Eli Showerda (walk) and Dominick Gionfriddo (single) both reached base safely. Showerda then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0. Gionfriddo scored Ed Walsh’s fourth run of the game on an error. Duffy capped the rally by lacing an RBI double up the middle to cap the rally as Ed Walsh held a 5-0 lead.
Jack Barry cracked the scoreboard with an RBI fielder’s choice by Jeremiah Sepulveda. Devin Rojas, who reached on a single, scored on the play. The run made it a 5-1 contest. The run was scored against Gionfriddo, Ed Walsh’s second pitcher of the game.
Duffy started the game for Ed Walsh. He fanned three of the five batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit. With a five-run cushion, Ed Walsh preserved him for the next game.
“We came in with a plan on how to use our pitching,” Michael Duffy said. “South Meriden had the bye and we knew they would have fresh pitchers tomorrow, so we had to play it different than we normally would. But we got what we needed out of all of our pitching.”
In the third, Adrian Rodriguez laced and opposite-field RBI single to right to score Hunter Cloukey and Ed Walsh expanded its lead to 6-1.
Duffy made it 8-1 with a two-run blast over the left-field fence scoring Noah Levesque, who reached on a double to start the frame.
“Our bats were just amazing today,” Michael Duffy said. “We had great at-bats up and down the lineup. We’re proud of our kids. They did a great job. Those home runs really put us ahead, but every kid had a great at-bat today.”
Gionfriddo was hit by a pitch to start the Ed Walsh sixth. He went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a pair of Jack Barry errors as Ed Walsh went up 9-1.
Jack Barry played a little long ball of their own in the sixth inning. Rafael Rodriguez and Lino Tavares smacked back-to-back homers to cut the Ed Walsh advantage to 9-3.
Jack Barry made things a little more interesting with a two-run double by Reyes in the seventh inning that closed the gap to 9-5. But that’s how it ended.
Cloukey logged four innings for Ed Walsh. Benigni recorded the final three outs on the mound for the winners.
Host South Meriden gets in the action on Saturday. South Meriden faces Ed Walsh at 10 a.m. South Meriden then faces Jack Barry on Sunday. The championship game will be held on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. All games will be played at Habershon.
Because South Meriden is hosting. the City Series will play with the Cal Ripken Baseball rules. This includes a bigger field, leading and stolen bases. Jack Barry and Ed Walsh play Little League rules.
“A lot of our kids, this was their first time playing at the bigger field,” Jack Barry All-Star coach Andrew Adams said. “We had a couple of balks early in the game. We had to teach them some new things. But all in all, we fought. We persevered.”
The Jack Barry team had not held a practice and the team was just finalized days before the tournament.
The City Series features Meriden all-stars aged 11 through 13. The tournament returned last year after an 11-year hiatus.